Saturday, June 25, 2016

New Links Page

I created a Links page (the tabs at the top of the blog) that lists some of the links I've found that are interesting and useful for an historical campaign. Currently I'm focused on the 17th century, but many of the links work for thousands of years into the past or even the future.

Check it out!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Mad Bomber: Kurt van der Gost

Kurt van der Gost is a Catholic fanatic. He worked in Bergen op Zoom under the direction of Wolfaert Meijer. The first time he was encountered he was nicknamed "the crazy man" as he ranted and raved and was willing to blow his enemies and himself to kingdom come. 

Kurt van der Gost

Faction: Ultramontanist Catholic, Spanish
Location: Last seen in jail in Bergen op Zoom awaiting trial for murder and treason.

Appearance: A thin man with a scraggly beard and a crazed gleam in his eyes.
Tagline: "I am ready to meet my maker. Are you, heretic?" 
Background: van der Gost is an Alchemist and Catholic Fanatic who has specialized in the creation of explosives and clockwork timers.

Savvy 2               Flair -1
Clockmaker 2      Alchemist 2        
Lifeblood 8      Advantage 1        Retainer
Language: Dutch (N), Spanish, Latin
Boon: Jack of all Trades
Flaws: Zealot (he would gladly kill or die for the Catholic cause)
Wheelock Pistol: 1d6+1 Dmg; Range: 10’, Misfire: 2
Parry+2; Ranged Attack+2

Below are some of the alchemical and clockwork devices created by van der Gost.

Clockwork Bomb (3)
tikka tokka tikka tokka tikka tokka BOOM!
Clockwork delayed wheelock ignition mechanism; exploding bomb does 5d6 damage; as a grenade, incendiary bomb does 1d6 damage per round from burning oil & pitch and ignites flammables. With bomb making Workshop, can create one new bomb every 2 days, without the lab can create 1/10 days.
Drugged Beer: Sleep inducer (ingested, gives 2d6 hours very sound sleep, 6-12 doses)
Flash Bomb (2): anyone within (10’ day/30’ night) radius who looks at flash is Blind[1] for 1d3 rounds; all who look at flash within double the radius have a penalty die for 1 round.
Smoke Grenade (2): dense smoke, (10’ day/30’ night) anyone inside or looking inside has effect as if Blind.

The Mad Bomber is a skilled alchemist and inventor. He uses traps to protect himself and his workshop and to bring fear and mayhem to unbelievers and heretics.
Ordinary: 1d3+1 Damage; -2 Difficulty to find and disarm.
Examples: Clockwork Handcrossbow
Flash: No Damage; Powerful Flash of gunpowder causes Blindness for 2d3 rounds; ‑2 Difficulty to find and disarm.:
Elaborate: 1d6+1 Damage; -4 Difficulty to find and disarm.
Examples: Wheelock Pistol, Acid Sprayer
Fiendish: 4d6 Grenade Damage; -2 Difficulty to find and disarm.
Example: Clockwork Bomb

[1] Blind: A combatant who is completely blind is At a Loss and has a Penalty Die to all rolls. Ranged attacks have an additional -4 penalty, and ranged attacks beyond close range are impossible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Requiem for a Spanish Agent: Wolfaert Meijer

Wolfaert Meijer was one of the Villains that the heroes faced at the Siege of Bergen op Zoom. Meijer was a Spanish Agent, a spy and saboteur who was the mastermind behind several plots to bring about the fall of the town to the Spanish besiegers. Eventually he was killed by a hail of grapeshot fired from a cannon by the Foul Corsair (a former pirate). Meijer had already escaped capture several times, to the intense frustration of the PCs, and in the latest battle had dodged several musket and pistol shots. (The Near Miss rules work just as well for Villains as for Heroes.) So as the Corsair fired he shouted, "Dodge this!" Unfortunately for Meijer a hail of grapeshot is difficult to dodge and he was out of Fortune Points.

Rest in peace, Wulfaert Meijer.

Wolfaert Meijer     

Spanish Agent (SR 4)
Faction: Spanish
Location: Flanders and the Netherlands (Bergen op Zoom)
Description: Dark hair, hideously scarred face. When first encountered he will be wearing a red carnation. 
Background: Wolfaert Meijer is a former brigand - a robber, murderer, and rapist - who found the pay of a Spanish Agent to his liking. He is ruthless and will not hesitate to sacrifice his companions to save himself. 

Meijer was behind the attempt to blow up the towns powder magazine, a terror campaign of bombs, and the opening of a town gate to the Spanish. Unfortunately for Meijer and the Spanish, the defenders were aware of his plan to open the gate and had prepared an ambush for the attackers.
Meijer was killed by a hail of grapeshot fired from a bastion cannon by the Foul Corsair.

Meijer is a fictional character.

Might 3           Daring 1              Savvy 1           Flair 0

Brawl 2           Melee 2               Ranged 1         Defense 0

Brigand 2        Spy2

Lifeblood 14   Advantage 3        Fortune 3

Language: Dutch (N), Spanish (F), French

Boon: Hard to Kill, Herculean Might, Night Sight

Flaws: Unsettling and Distinctive Appearance (scar from upper right forehead, bisecting the nose and down to his left jaw)

Broadsword: 1d6+4 Dmg; +1 Beat
Dagger: 1d3+4 Damage; Range 5'; +1 Called Shot 

Wheelock Pistols (2): 1d6+1 Dmg; Range: 10’, Misfire: 2

Maneuvers: Bladework+3, Disarm+5; Beat+5[6], Bind+5; Parry+3; Aim Shot (Bonus Die to attack), Ranged Attack+2

Meijer was aided by two gangs of Pawns.

Hired Swords (Competence 2)
Daring 1          Melee 1               Ranged -1        Defense 1
Duelist 0          Language: Dutch (N)
Rapier: 1d6 Dmg; +1 Parry
Bladework+2; Parry+2

Brigands (Competence 2)
Daring 1          Ranged 1
Brigand 0        Language: Dutch (N)
Wheelock Pistol: 1d6+1 Dmg; Range: 10’, Misfire: 2
Hanger sword: 1d6 Dmg; +1 Quick Cut damage
Bladework+1, Quick Cut+0; Parry+0; Ranged Attack+1

Friday, June 17, 2016

Which instrument shall she play?

Women and Music in the 17th Century

Over at Hoydens and Firebrands there is an fascinating post on women and music in the 17th century: Modest or Unmannerly, Which Instrument Shall She Play? by DM Denton.
In the 17th century a refined young woman might want and even be encouraged to cultivate her musical ability and prove some accomplishment through singing and accompanying herself instrumentally—as recreation not occupation, of course. Considering her need to impress a suitor, show her figure off in the best possible way, express the sweetest tones of her personality and gentle capability of her character, which instrument should she play?

Under the Don Juan career, Honor+Intrigue notes that

A Don Juan knows just the right words, gifts, or look
to make any woman putty in his hands. He knows how
to serenade with a lute or compose love poetry, and
how to dress to impress.

Of course a Temptress (the female version of a Don Juan) has similar abilities to a Don Juan and this article provides some period information about the sorts of instruments a female Courtier or Temptress might play and also which instruments some of the men in the period found appropriate or unmannerly for female musicians.

A concert with male and female musicians

Articles at Hoydens & Firebrands tend to be focused on England more so than France or the rest of the Continent and to the later rather than the early half of the 17th century. Despite that it has some great information and it sometimes includes information about women in the period that is sometimes less commonly seen.

Check them out!

Here's another, though the two men in hats look more late Renaissance, the woman's dress and the man with the skull cap seem 17th century.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Adventure Generators

I like adventure generators. A few years ago I came across a really detailed and useful generator for swashbuckling adventures. I blogged about it here. It is called the Swashbuckling Scenario Generator. by Ralph Mazza. I've used his generator to create several adventures for Honor+Intrigue. Like all random generators it requires some interpretation and judgment, but I find such tools a great way of generating new ideas or throwing something even I don't expect and wouldn't have considered into the campaign. The really nice thing about the Swashbuckling Scenario Generator is it really does output the sort of plots one sees in swashbuckling fiction but it has a broader range than do most individual swashbuckling authors since it is clearly culled from many sources.

Unfortunately the game it was designed for never saw print and the generator is no longer directly online, though for now at least it is still available view the Way Back Machine. I'd love to post it or post a modified version for France in the reign of Louis XIII, but I have still not yet succeeded in tracking down Ralph Mazza and I am reluctant to publish it without permission. But great minds and all that, I came across a short adventure generator on the Wine and Savages blog by Sean Tait Bircher & Robin English-Bircher. It's designed for Champions of the People (a game I am not familiar with). The game seems focused on populace heroes like Zorro and Robin Hood. Here it is:

Champion of the People Adventure Generator

The authors note that the tables need to customized or interpreted based on settings, e.g. "Zorro’s California is much more likely to suffer a drought than Robin Hood’s England." The generator has several tables.
Roll once on Table 1 for Villain, once on Table 2 for villain’s target, once on Table 3 for Threat, and once on Table 4: Is This a Trap?
Obviously Table 1: Villain needs to be customized to the setting. We have four different types of villain:
  • Local Authority (Captain Ramon, Sheriff of Nottingham, crimelord, etc.)
  • Higher Authority (governor of California, Prince John, etc.)
  • Unaffiliated Criminal (roll on Table 1a)
  • Innocent in the Wrong (roll on Table 2: Innocent)
The Local Authority and Higher Authority will need customization. If the location is the city of Paris, the local authority would be the Provost of Paris who commands the Archers of Paris, the closest thing to a city police that Paris has in the time period. He'd be the nearest equivalent to Captain Ramon or the Sheriff of Nottingham. Because my campaign is not as focused as are stories about Zorro or Robin Hood, I'd probably include other local authorities - though for a shorter, more focused campaign selecting a single local foe as the major target might be smart move. The higher authority in Paris would be King Louis XIII or, more probably, the Cardinal. Thanks in part to Dumas, the Cardinal often ends up as a villain.

If the setting was in the provinces outside of Paris, the local authority would be the governor of the closest city or biggest, closest town and the higher authority would be the provincial governor or again, the Cardinal. If the setting doesn't have close city or town, then just drop the Provincial Governor or Lieutenant Governor to play the local roll. To add depth to the campaign one could add three levels of authority, e.g. a town governor, a provincial governor, and the Cardinal as the final villain. Once they defeat, expose, or the players tire of the Governor they discover that the Governor is just a pawn of the Cardinal.

Unaffiliated Criminal and Innocent in the Wrong work just fine as is. The six criminals types listed in Table 1a: Unaffiliated Criminal work just fine for 17th century France. So no change needed there. Similarly the four innocents listed in Table 2: Innocent are all fine for a French setting. If the setting is a city, like Paris I'd tweak Table 2a: Local Notable by swapping a  Jurist or Lawyer for the Land Owner.

Table 3: Threat works just fine as it is.

One final tweak I'd make is to Table 4: Is This a Trap? I'd start out with at least the first adventure or two as strstraightforward and not a trap. If the first experiences the players have is "Its a trap!" then they are likely to have a hard time getting into the good guy behavior. After they've solved one or two straightforward problems then I'd allow them the chance for a trap.

So have you found any interesting tables for generating adventures?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Stealing from 7th Sea

7th Sea is a swashbuckling pastiche sent in a pseudo Europe. For reasons that escape me, it doesn't seem to actually have analogues to our earthly seven seas, but that's neither here nor there.

Since it is a pastiche there are bits and pieces that can be swiped for a historical fiction setting like my Honor+Intrigue game. 

Josh Perldeiner at the Signe of the Frothing Mug was inspired by the upcoming new release of 7th Sea to do some GM planning. He created several NPCs, at least of few of which I can modify for H+I. Here are his first five posts.

Solmund Morgenkraii

Baldassar Orenza

Dottore Luigi Vasso

Archimandrite Danil

Barabus Butschwi

Check it out!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bonus NPC of the Week: Charles de Machault

I think I've missed a few weeks. I'll look around for a few makeup NPCs.These are three related NPCs. All are based on actual historical figures, though everything other than the basic background is conjectural, i.e. shit I made up.

Charles de Machault, seigneur de Ermenouville

Master of Requests             (SR 10)

Roleplaying: Machault is a conformist, a follower, not a leader. He quickly picks up fashions, mannerisms, phrases, and behaviors from those around him, especially anyone of higher social status or greater power. 

Motivations: Pride and conformity: he is proud of his status and family, but a dedicated conformist, e.g. he dresses in black to be different…just like all his friends in the Noblesse de Robe.

Factions: Noblesse de Robe

Location: Paris, France or Château d’Ermenouville the family estate north of Paris.

Background: Charles de Machault (b. 1587) seigneur d’Arnouville or Ermenouville is a Parlementarian (robe noble) and conseiller du Grand-Conseil (1608), maître des requêtes (1619), and later Intendant des Armées of Normandie, Languedoc, Bourgogne, and Dauphiné. While Master of Requests is a fairly important positions, there are scores of Masters of Request (maître des requêtes) in the Council of State (Conseil d'État). 

His father is Louis de Machault  seigneur de Boigny. In 1611 Charles married Françoise Le Fèvre de Mormant (or de Caumartin) the daughter of François Le Fèvre de Caumartin. Marchault, like many nobles, is frequently unfaithful to his wife.

Château d’Ermenouville is 10 miles north of the Louvre (see Paris Environs entry for the village of Ermenouville).

First encountered on April 12, 1624 in Adventure 39.7: The Mysterious Madame Corbeau. He and his two guards had a romantic encounter with the lustful Hedge Witch Leonora Corbeau. Machault likes the Seigneur de Chambre (PC).

Savvy 2            Flair 1
Brawl -1           Melee 1              Defense 2
Magistrate 1     Physician 1        Courtier 1
Lifeblood 8      Composture 3    Advantage 1     Retainer 3

Languages: French (N), Latin (F), Spanish 

Boons: Lucky Sword (spend 1 FP to reroll a 1 on any die for initiative or any attack, defense, or damage roll with this sword; +1FP per session when you have this sword.
Flaws: Cursed (-1 FP; bad things just seem to happen to you, earn a FP when the GM causes something bad to happen to you.)

  Rapier 1d6+1 Damage, +1 Parry
  Cloak: +1 to Feint, Bind; usable with Cloak Parry

Actions: Bladework+1, Brawling -1, Quick Cut+2; Feint+2[3], Footwork+2; Cloak Parry+2, Dodge, Parry+3[4], Riposte+3; Ranged Attack+2

(Image source: Braun & Schneider Historic Costume in Pictures Dover Publications, 1975)  
NPC in: L'Honneur et les Intrigue (Historical figure)

Louis de Machault, seigneur de Boigny

Conseiller d’Etat  (SR 11)

Location: Paris, France or Château d’Ermenouville the family estate north of Paris.

Roleplaying: Old Noblesse de Robe, old, tired, jaded and a bit cynical,
                “No one’s who has been in politics as long as I have still has clean hands.”

Background: Louis de Machault (b. 1557) seigneur de Boigny and de Boutigny maître des comptes (1586), conseiller d’Etat (1621) which is a somewhat more selective title than Master of Requests. In 1586 he married Catherine Hervieu daughter of Claude Hervieu and  Marguerite Le Comte-de-Montauglan.

Daring -1               Savvy 1                 Flair 1                     Defense 1
Magistrate 1          Lifeblood 2                                           Pawn 2
Languages: French (N), Latin (F)
  Cloak: +1 to Feint, Bind; usable with Cloak Parry
Maneuvers: Footwork+1, Cloak Parry+1
Equipment: Clothing of an esteemed magistrate and Noblesse de Robe.

NPC in: L'Honneur et les Intrigue (Historical figure)

Françoise Le Fèvre Lady de Mormant

Wife of a Robe Noble         (SR 10)

Location: Paris, France or Château d’Ermenouville the family estate north of Paris.

Roleplaying: She is an avid shooter and likes to hunt, mostly birds and sometimes deer.

Motivation: Hungry – she has a robust appetite and she uses food to comfort herself.

Background: Françoise Le Fèvre de Mormant (or de Caumartin) is the daughter of François Le Fèvre de Caumartin, seigneur de Mormant and de Boisserpe (also Boissette), Général des Finances of Picardie, Treasurer de France à Paris and of Gabrielle de Chantecler; niece of Louis, Garde des Sceaux de France. In 1611 she married Charles de MAchault.

Might -1                 Savvy 1                 Ranged 2
Noble 1                  Hunter 1                Lifeblood 3           Pawn 4
Languages: French (N), Latin
  Wheel-lock Pistol: 1d6+1 Damage; 10’ Range; Reload 3MA
  Wheel-lock Musket: 2d6 Damage; 50’ Range; Reload 4MA
Maneuvers: Footwork+1; Ranged Attack+3
Equipment: Fine wheel-lock hunting musket, keeps a loaded wheel-lock belt pistol in her nightstand drawer.

NPC in: L'Honneur et les Intrigue (Historical figure)